Sixty-three civilians have been wounded as unidentified raiders reportedly attacked several cattle camps occupied by members of the Lou Nuer ethnic group in Jonglei state, South Sudan.
Reports say most of the cattle camps that were attacked are located on the Ethiopia side of the border. The wounded civilians have been treated in the hospital on Akobo town, but reliable casualty figures, including deaths, are not yet available.
The United Nations peacekeeping mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) responded urgently.
UNMISS recently sent patrol units and deployed a medical team to an area on the country’s border with Ethiopia where the incident took place.
A patrol and medical teams were dispatched to Akobo and Wanding areas to determine the circumstances of the reported attacks and to provide medical aid to those affected.
The mission also voiced condemnation on the attacks and urged all communities in Jonglei state to exercise restraint.
The latest attacks came even as the Government of South Sudan appointed a peace committee to broker reconciliation between feuding communities in Jonglei.
Hilde F. Johnson, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for South Sudan and head of UNMISS, urged communities in Jonglei to cooperate to ensure that the Government’s peace initiatives are successfully implemented.
“It is very good in our view that the Government has decided to use voluntary disarmament as the approach and we are seeing that they are putting community chiefs, local commissioners, in charge, together with the police, and the SPLA, the army, is only standing by in case of violence or major resistance.” – Ms. Johnson
She stresses that UNMISS has a mandate to protect civilians. The mission will therefore monitor carefully what is happening.
Meanwhile, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) reported that thousands of members of the Lou Nuer community from South Sudan have sought refuge in western Ethiopia.
UNHCR reports that an estimated 15,000 people, most of them women, children and the elderly, who fled from Akobo county in Jonglei state have entered Ethiopia since mid-February.
In December 2011, an outbreak of inter-ethnic violence left more than 40 people dead, most of them women, children and the elderly.
Intense rivalry between the Luo Nuer and Murle communities in Jonglei, often over cattle rustling, frequently spark outbreaks of bloody clashes that have left hundreds dead and thousands displaced this year alone.
The Security Council established the United Nations Mission in the Republic of South Sudan (UNMISS) for an initial period of one year, starting from 9 July 2011.
UNMISS is on the ground to consolidate peace and security and to help establish conditions for development.